THE dilemma for those observing the decisions made by the UK government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is to try and NOT Downing Street handout photo of politicise how they are handling this crisis. There is no disputing that the safety and welfare of our citizens is paramount at this time regardless of politics. However, with the crisis now well and truly in its ascendency I do wish to take the opportunity to comment on how the government seem to be coping with the “big decisions”.

The seriousness of this global emergency was there for all to see when China went into lockdown and Italy seemed to be caught unaware. It’s clear to me that the Tory Westminster government were incredibly slow in reacting with the immediate actions required. Why was this the case?

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Is there a template available to deal with an epidemic of this nature? The answer is probably no. Unfortunately, the template will be that related to controlling the health aspects, but as we have seen you cannot separate a successful health outcome without a political will which delivers the correct strategy that not only saves lives but saves businesses, protects jobs and provides the frontline services with the equipment and resources needed. Both the health imperative and the political will are intertwined. This pandemic has made that relationship vividly obvious. The appearance of the PM, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser have also made this connection totally clear.

Well, how has our UK democracy fared on both counts? It is my view that the Johnson government’s political will is just simply not there. From January until the beginning of March they had been unable to link the immediate welfare and safety of the public with the socio/economic fallout on business and the individual. The billion-pound bailout of the banking sector in 2008 was portrayed as totally justifiable, so why not the same for this crisis Why? Because it is not in the DNA of the Tories to ever contemplate that they would have to finance “free, gratis” the needs of our people and free financial support of business.

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This is the party of corporate business, of profit, investment returns, stocks and shares, low taxation, tax avoidance and minimum wage costs. This is the “there is no society” hatcher party. As a consequence we have witnessed over three months the total inertia of a party unable and unwilling to take the drastic action needed to address this unprecedented crisis.

The consequences of this has been “a rabbit in the headlights” piecemeal approach to providing support to the NHS, businesses and of course our people. When the realisation that not to support would leave to hardship and potential loss of life, the penny finally dropped and finally support was brought to bear. It was dragged out and presented by a Chancellor as the great saviour of the nation over a period of four weeks.

On examining the “devil in the detail”, the financial support sadly is far away from being free. The support in most cases has many caveats and strings attached. Johnson and his advisers just simply cannot leave the politics behind. The real consequence of their reluctance to spend has been the NHS waiting for the materials, equipment and people support needed to combat the virus.

Even more acute has been the misery and angst and cries for help of those people and families whose lives have been devastated by the too-little-too-late actions of this Tory government. Their daily reports do not in my opinion provide comfort, clarity or leadership and make our futures seem very difficult indeed.

In stark contrast our FM , Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officer tell it as it is and do not mince their words.

Sadly they do not hold the purse strings, but at least their agenda to deal with this epidemic is very clear to me. I am so glad and so proud to be a Scot living in Scotland at this time.

Dan Wood

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